By Qutubuddin Aziz
The Quaid-i-Azam felt utterly surprised when he learnt from Prime Minister Liaquat Ali the details of the lavish spending by the British Indian Government on the office of the Viceroy and his person and family in New Delhi "This expenditure is too huge for our new State, we cannot afford it. Cut my budget to the barest minimum. I can live decently in Karachi with my own funds. We need more funds urgently for Kashmir and refugee rehabilitation, he said. "I don't need a new Limousine, my Packard is still a beauty and runs well. I can use commercial aircraft and Air Force planes for travel in the country," thus spoke Governor General Jinnah to his Prime Minister. Pakistan's Foreign Minister Sir Zafarullah Khan took it upon himself to explain to the Quaid-i-Azam the rationale and need for getting a suitable Limousine and aircraft for his use on State duty. The Governor General finally agreed but instructed that Ambassador M.A.H. Ispahani in Washington D.C. should look into the matter i.e. buying a suitable new Limousine and a small aircraft in the USA for the use of the Governor General in Pakistan. The Quaid-i-Azam was pleased when Ambassador Ispahani suggested the purchase of a new Super Cadillac and wrote that the manufacturer of General Motors would give a very substantial discount in the listed price for the new model. The Quaid-i-Azam got a detailed report on the Limousine, the net price payable, and the time when it would be delivered in Karachi. He also got a report on which other countries were using Cadillacs for their heads of State, heads of Government and Ambassadors. The Quaid-i-Azam, suggested that as Pakistan has a left-hand traffic system, the Cadillac should have a left hand drive system. He also wanted assurances from the manufacturers that spare parts needed for the vehicle would be made available in Pakistan quickly. General Motors offered to install many new gadgets, facilities and conveniences inside the Cadillac at small expense such as long distance telephone. The offer was accepted largely because the amount was small. Knowing the wishes and mood of the Governor General, Ambassador Ispahani managed to bring about reduction in the cost of shipment, boxing the car and insurance for its journey from the USA to Karachi in Pakistan. Ambassador Ispahani made himself conversant with every item of the transaction and the schedule for the delivery of the Limousine in Karachi. Ispahani to Governor General Jinnah intimated every bit of the transaction. The Quaid was a hard taskmaster and Mr Ispahani knew his penchant for the minutes' detail and absolute transparency.
The exchange of correspondence about the purchase of the Cadillac Limousine between Ispahani and Governor General Jinnah is amply covered in a hefty 1948 book: M.A. Jinnah Ispahani Correspondence 1936-1948 edited by Z.H. Zaidi and launched in Karachi by Ispahani in a crowded press conference at his residence in the presence of his gracious wife, Begum Ghamar Ispahani.
Seemingly, the Governor General was a bit annoyed when the delivery of the Limousine ordered from the USA through our Embassy there was delayed. In his letter dated December 11, 1947, to Ispahani, Governor General Jinnah wrote... "What about my car? It was to be delivered in the middle of November and here we are now in the middle of December and I have not yet heard as to what has happened to it. Please let me know how the matter stands because I want the car very badly." In his letter of December 20, 1947, from the Pakistan Embassy in Washington D.C Ambassador Ispahani informed the Governor General of Pakistan that the Cadillac had reached New York from Detroit, its place of manufacture by General Motors and it will be placed on board a ship bound for Karachi before the end of next week. I am sure you will like the automobile. In this letter, Ispahani also enclosed a photograph of the new 20-passenger Model 34 Beechcraft aeroplane, which had successfully completed its initial flight test on October 1, 1947, and can be bought at a reasonable price for use of the Governor General in Pakistan. In his letter dated January 8, 1948, Ambassador Ispahani informed the Governor General of Pakistan that the Cadillac booked for him was shipped on S.S. Explorer which left the USA on December 29 and it was due to reach Karachi port in the first week of February.
In a letter sent to Ambassador Ispahani from Government House in Lahore, Jinnah did not approve of buying an aircraft of quarter million dollars from the Beechcraft Corporation, saying that the Governor General of Pakistan cannot afford to travel in an aircraft, which will cost more than fifteen lakhs in rupees. The Governor General seemed to have opted for a slightly less expensive aircraft of Vickers Armstrong whose Viking planes were in use in India and Pakistan for civil purpose and he said in his reply to Ispahani that the Viking prices were not unreasonable, and taking everything into consideration I am trying to negotiate with them. Another difficulty with the Beechcraft plane was servicing while it's for the Vikings posed no problem.
It was also suggested to the Quaid-i-Azam that along with the Cadillac ordered for him, he should have a second Limousine. Ambassador Ispahani proposed from Washington that the Governor General should have a 1948 Super Packard or a new Lincoln. A substantial diplomatic discount was offered for either car. The Quaid-i-Azam studied the literature pertaining to the two cars but when he learnt from the Pakistan Ambassador in Washington D.C that the Cadillac car ordered for him had been boxed and shipped from the USA to Karachi, he immediately informed Ambassador Ispahani that he would not like to have a second car. He looked forward to get the Cadillac in Karachi because the number of top ranking foreign dignitaries visiting Pakistan were multiplying briskly and at times they had to ride with the Governor General in his official car from the Karachi Airport to Governor General's House in the heart of the city. The meticulous care with which the Pakistan Governor General attended to official work, is evidenced by Ambassador Ispahani's letter of October 20, 1948, from the Pakistan Embassy in Washington D.C to him in Karachi in which the Ambassador wrote that he had received the letter of the Military Secretary to Jinnah, Colonel Birnie dated October 21, 1948, advising him of the remittance to him of 6,000 US dollars to meet the cost and other charges incurred on account of the Cadillac car.
In a letter dated November 3, 1947, from Washington D.C Ambassador Ispahani informed the Governor General that the aircraft for his use from the Beechcraft Corporation would cost around a quarter million dollars. A super aircraft offered by the Consolidated Vultee Corporation of the USA whose details Ispahani sent to the Governor General in Karachi would have cost half a million dollars, a price which was not acceptable to the Quaid-i-Azam. After carefully examining all the offers and the prices involved, the Governor General showed a preference for the Viking plane offered by Vickers Armstrong, which was a little less expensive than all the other offers. The Governor General called for reports on each offer from the Pakistan Air Force experts to ensure that the aircraft Pakistan was buying for its Governor General was technologically the best for the very reasonable price he would agree to pay for it. It should be remembered that the time when the Quaid-i-Azam was personally examining this matter in Karachi he was not in the best of health and his physicians were pressing him to shift to Quetta or Ziarat.